The Palmyra softball team couldn't capitalize on opportunities in the late innings of a 2-1 loss to Bowling Green on Thursday at Flower City Park.
Bailey Lovelace dove to her left to snag a grounder, stepped on second base and threw to first for a double play.
The Palmyra shortstop's brilliant defensive effort in the sixth inning Thursday night kept the host Lady Panthers within one run of Bowling Green at Flower City Park.
“That's one thing we preach is we've got to keep the ball on the infield," Palmyra coach Jill Arch said. "Sometimes you've got to lay out for it, and that's exactly what Bailey did. She came up for that double play and it was beautiful.”
Palmyra (5-2) was unable to capitalize on the momentum.
Bowling Green (8-3) scored the go-ahead run in the fifth and clung to its lead for a hard-fought 2-1 victory.
Sarah Harness and Lauren Van Tress engaged in a pitching duel in the rematch of the 2017 Class 2 quarterfinal, which Bowling Green won 5-1 en route to the state championship.
Harness struck out 13 while allowing just four hits, two walks and a run over seven innings for the Lady Bobcats to earn the win. The fireballer stranded Palmyra runners on base the final three frames.
“Sarah probably wouldn't say she had her absolute best stuff, but it was enough to get the job done and have 13 strikeouts and take command of our defense," Bowling Green coach Dean Streed said. "Heck of a game for her.”
Van Tress efficiently tossed 72 pitches over her complete game outing. The Palmyra starter pitched two-run ball while striking out six, scattering five hits and not issuing a walk.
"Lauren pitched one of her best games," Arch said.
Gabi Deters put Bowling Green on the board with an RBI double to left field with two outs in the third.
Palmyra countered with a two-out rally of its own in the bottom of the same frame. Lovelace shot a single to left before Lexi Arch skied a 1-2 pitch for an RBI triple to right-center.
"That helped the rest of the girls relax at the plate and was a big confidence booster for the team," coach Arch said.
Tanner Turner singled and moved to second on an error in the fifth before scoring on a Madeline Norton double that staked Bowling Green to a 2-1 advantage.
Norton finished 2-for-2 from the No. 9 spot in the Lady Bobcats lineup.
"We always like to have surprise in the 9 hole," Streed said. "If you think, 'OK, 9 hole, this is an easy out,' you saw what happened twice tonight. Madeline had two nice hit balls. She was the fire-starter of our offense tonight."
Palmyra turned a 5-3-2 double play to end the top of the fifth.
Despite having runners on base in six of the seven innings, Palmyra couldn't break through more than once.
The Lady Panthers stranded three runners on third base in the loss.
Arch was left standing at third to end the third.
Drew Billups beat out an infield single and moved to third with two outs in the fifth, but Lovelace was called out on a bang-bang play at first base for the third out.
Arch reached on an error in the sixth and moved to third on a wild pitch with two outs before Harness delivered a strikeout to thwart the threat.
Harness worked around a two-out single by Billups in the seventh by firing her 13th strikeout to secure the win.
"We had runners on but we just didn't get another timely hit," coach Arch explained. "That will come. Hopefully we can keep building our confidence and be able to hit those kind of pitchers, and hopefully we'll see 'em in the playoffs."